Kejriwal's biggest test: Not Bhushan and Yadav, but Delhi summer
If AAP fails to handle power and water woes in the capital, its popularity will fall rapidly.
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With an unprecedented 67 out of 70 Assembly seats, AAP has been under immense pressure right from day one to deliver on its promises. Though their Delhi innings started well but the Yadav-Kejriwal-Bhushan controversy overshadowed their spectacular success to a certain extent, as a result of which, AAP drew flak from critics and supporters alike.
However, given the current circumstances in Delhi, AAP is about to face its toughest test till now in the coming summer months, which has a fair probability to dent its credibility and impact its electoral chances in the upcoming state and municipal elections, should it choose to contest those. There are three issues which will fiercely test AAP and Kejriwal.
1. Water availability: Delhi's daily water requirement is 11 million gallons per day (MGD) but the water treatment plants are able to provide just 600 to 700 MGD per day. Delhi Jal Board's four ambitious projects for providing water supply are still a long way from completion. Moreover, the dispute with Haryana over extra raw water from the Munak canal will only add to Kejriwal's woes. Haryana chief minister ML Khattar has already issued a statement saying that Haryana cannot provide water to Delhi by ignoring the interests of its citizens and farmers and all states, not just Haryana, should contribute water to Delhi. Though the UP government has offered to help, clearly, AAP will have find it hard to provide meet the demand in the peak summer season. Additionally, Kejriwal's proposal that VIPs will face cuts in case of water shortage is bound to bring the BJP and AAP to loggerheads.
2. Tussle with municipal bodies: Trifurcation of the erstwhile Municipal Corporation of Delhi into three different bodies in 2012 led to a severe financial crunch for the divided arms. The situation was worsened due to absence of an elected government in Delhi. While the South Delhi Municipal Corporation with its affluent jurisdiction eked out profits, its North and East counterparts are reeling under shortage of money and haven't been able to pay salaries to its employees for the past two months, primarily, sanitation and garbage removal workers. Interestingly, in its manifesto, AAP had pledged to regularise all contractual jobs with a special focus on "safai karmacharis". Though the mayors of the respective corporations approached Kejriwal for help, he refused to bail them out and asked them to request the Centre for funds. In response, the corporations protested in front of the Delhi Secretariat. The tussle is unlikely to end in the coming days.
3. CAG audit and power supply: Conducting a CAG audit for power discoms has been one of AAP's pet promises. During its 49 day tenure, AAP ordered a CAG audit for the power discoms, which led to announcement of power cuts by the discoms citing lack of funds. Last month, Kejriwal met the CAG to seek the status of the audit ordered by them last year. With Delhi facing an ever rising power demand with each passing summer, the proposed audit will definitely create a fracas between the two parties, due to which, Delhi residents might have to feel the heat, given the scorching summers Delhi faces.
If AAP fails to handle resolve these issues, its electoral chances in other municipal and state polls could be severely dented. Clearly, summer of 2015 won't be the "Summer of 69" for Kejriwal.